Tuesday, April 30, 2013

K Turns 3!

Today my little guy turned three! These few years have gone by so, so quickly, but without sugar-coating it some of the days have seemed to last for ever. That being said, K is an awesome little boy full of kindness and love, and I cannot think of a single bit of him I would like to change - scratch that! He doesn't like cake and it kills me!!!!!

I have mentioned before that K is not the biggest fan of cake. Frosting is okay in his book, but it seemed to lame (and also kind of gross) to let him tear into a vat of Swiss Meringe Buttercream. Plus, how would I have gotten the candles to stick in it!? The one thing that he asks for week after week is Christmas cookies. Last Christmas, I made a few different kinds, but he fell in love with the "brown circles." Although we are four months out of the Christmas season, I decided that Christmas cookies were due.

As I started mixing up the dry ingredients, the house immediately started smelling of Christmas - cinnamon, ginger, allspice and cloves will do that.

Once the dry ingredients were mixed in with the wet - including molasses - it definitely started to taste like Christmas, too.

Once the batter was ready, I rolled the little balls and then coated them in sugar. I was able to get all of the dough prepared while the first set were baking - so simple. The recipe said to bake for 9 to 11 minutes. I stuck with 9, as I like them on the chewy side.

This isn't the best photo, but they are puffed up a bit when first taken out of the oven. I found that they are really difficult to transfer to a cooling rack until they flatten out and cool a bit on the tray. Then they move quite easily, yet are still nice and chewy once cooled.

This morning, in lieu of a cake, I popped three candles in a stack of cookies. As soon as K saw the cookies, he was so excited, "Mama!!! My favorite cookies!!! I love Christmas cookies. Thank you!" I will admit that making Christmas cookies in April was weird, but hearing those words and seeing his little face light up was worth it. I think I would make these for him daily if I kept getting that reaction.

After singing, he wasted no time blowing out his candles. It took him a few tries, but in the end he got them all out.

Then he made the most adorable face and noise when he took his first bite. I love him.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Steamed Banana and Chocolate Bread

Today was K's first full day of preschool. He got on the bus at 7:53 in the morning and I picked him up at the bus stop at 2:26. As awful as it sounds, a day to myself was glorious. I took out the trash, did the laundry, cleaned the house in record time, went for a walk, then to the grocery store, and finally to another shop, made and ate my lunch, made dinner, and then since I had some time before heading to the bus stop I made K a treat for after school - steamed banana and chocolate bread.

As today was a full day, he had school lunch. This had me a tad worried because K can be a tad picky about his food. I really wasn't sure if he would eat anything, so I thought having a nice snack at the ready would be a good idea. Turns out he had sandwiches, one of them (from what I can gather) was egg salad. The concept of eggs in a sandwich cracked him up. What a nutter.

Anyway, for the steamed breads, I started by mixing up 150g of flour, 5g of baking powder, 30g of sugar and a pinch of salt.

Then I added 150ml of milk and a tablespoon of vegetable oil.

Once that was all nice and mixed, I roughly chopped up a banana and also threw in a small handful of mini chocolate chips.

Once that was all mixed up I spooned a little into cupcake papers and then put them in my oven on the steam setting for 20 minutes.

They spread out a lot, and don't look much like little cupcake breads at all, but they were really quite tasty. I'm wondering if I could put them in cupcake tins and then steam them. Otherwise, I need to invest in some stronger cups to steam them in.

Either way, it really didn't matter. K was stoked on them and that is all that counts!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Truck Backpack

A few days ago, I posted about a pouch I made for my best friend, Lisa's birthday. I didn't mention it in the last post, but Lisa has a nearly two-year old little boy who loves trucks. I wanted to send something along for him as well, and decided that K's "hated backpack" would be perfect. I mentioned in the original post about K's backpack that he absolutely hated it. Luckily, his hatred was short-lived and now it is one of his main go-tos. Before we leave the house, particularly if he knows we are going to be gone for the day, the backpack gets filled with a few favorite toys and his water, and we are off. He loves it very much and I am hoping that Lisa's little guy will like his as well.

Much like the LeSportsac rip-off, the insides of this bag are finished with bias tape. This is both a blessing and a curse, given my fear of bias tape, as well as my ineptitude. It does, however, make the construction of the bag very simple. Cut out the pieces, zig zag the main and lining together for all of the pieces, sew on the straps pieces and the zipper bits and you are ready to sew.

Sewing it, too, is not much of a challenge. The bottom corners can get a bit dicey for me, but the rest is a breeze.

The challenging bit is the stinking bias tape. I really don't know what my issue is, but every time I use bias tape, I have to unpick and resew bits. I really have to work this out.

Once the bias tape is finished, however, so is the bag.

I imagine the bag may be slightly big for the little guy right now, but I couldn't resist making it for him. Plus, I adore the fabric and knew something cute could be made from it!

In case he hated the bag, just like K first did, I threw in some little trucks. Just after it arrived, I got the two sweetest videos in my inbox - Lisa's little boy loved the trucks!! He didn't run away from the backpack screaming as K did the first time he saw it, so I consider the bag a success as well!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Lisa!

Just over a week ago, one of my best, best, best friends in this whole world celebrated her 31st birthday. Lisa and I became friends between our first and second year of college, and since that summer she has always been so dear to my heart. Even though we live far away from one another now, she is someone that I still consider myself extremely close to. Although we don't get to see one another very often (as in years go by without seeing each other), we talk regularly and very occasionally FaceTime one another. She is one of my very favorite people on this planet and I miss her like crazy!

Anyway, I bought her a few small presents for her birthday, but also wanted to make her something. I thought and thought about what is the one thing that I have made that I use daily - my LeSportsac Rip-Off! I made it months ago, but still love it. It is getting more and more beat up by the day, but I guess it is a testament to how much it is used. Luckily, I had made a pattern for it and even thought to save the pattern!

I got all of the pieces cut out and since the inside is finished with bias tape, I started by sewing all of the parts together. I didn't think to sew the inside pocket to the lining prior to sewing the lining to the outside of the main fabric, duh. So I had to pick those apart, sew the pocket on, and sew those parts together again. Gaaa!

Once that was all ready, I marked the center of the bag to the center of the zipper bit and got to sewing. Once the bag was all sewed up, I finished it off with bias tape. As I have mentioned numerous times before, bias tape always makes me nervous. But, I got it done and I think it looked pretty cute in the end!

One of the fun things about making items for others is picking out the fabric. I fell in love with this outside fabric. I really like the lining as well, but in my mind, the outside, with all of the different patterns, steals the show. Come to think of it, it might just be that I like the designer given that I tend to use their fabrics a lot. Or maybe I just like the patchwork look without all of the patchwork work. Regardless, I love this little bag and hope you do, too, Lisa!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Chocolate Pecan Brownies

At the end of last week, I made plans with a friend for her and her sister to come over yesterday. Whenever people come over, I think it is nice to have a sweet little snack - it's also good blog fodder - and this time was no different. The only problem, is that the friends that were to come over are very health conscious, work out heaps, and have beautiful bodies to prove it. I know that for them, eating a sweet treat is viewed very differently than from my eyes. As a result, I wanted something that would be delicious, yet not too awful for you. I turned to Cooking Light and found a delicious looking Fudge-Walnut Brownie.  
I will admit that I know very little about how many grams of fat, carbs, cholesterol, etc. I am meant to have in a day. By "very little" I mean nothing. Since I got the recipe from Cooking Light, I figured it can't be that bad, right!??! So, I got to baking.
First, mix up the dry ingredients and in a different bowl, melt the chocolate and milk.

Add the other wet ingredients to the chocolate and milk mixture and give it a good stir - I probably could have used a bigger bowl for this, but it ended up working just fine.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir it up.

At this point, it was looking delicious and I was getting so excited! I love a good brownie!!

Finally I stirred in some pecans, which were substituted for the walnuts, and some chocolate chunks too.

I put the whole mixture into a square cake pan that was lined with parchment paper. I hate trying to pry brownies out of the pan while still keeping them in tact. Then I sprinkled the top with the last of the pecans and baked it up!

I did have to bake them a tad bit longer than the recipe suggested, but it wasn't a crazy long time (maybe about 5 extra minutes??) and these ended up being perfect. No burnt edges. No dry spots. Plain deliciousness in every bite. That being said, when I showed the nutritional information to my friend, her eyes bugged out a bit at the 30mg of cholesterol per serving. Luckily for me, the doctors always tell me off regarding my low-cholesterol levels - maybe I just need to make these brownies more often? Fine by me!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mario Hat & K's First Day of School

Recently K learned how to play MarioKart on our Wii. He quickly grew very fond of being Mario and having me play Princess Peach. A few days ago, I asked him if he remembered that he was Mario for Halloween when he was just one year old. He said he did, but also asked to see photos. He then really politely asked if he could wear his Mario costume.

 I dug it out of the closet, but of course it was way too tiny. The hat sat on top of his head like a little bowl. The overalls were not even close. He was bummed. He asked to wear the hat anyway, but of course it just kept falling off. He eventually got a bit frustrated and told me that he wants a new Mario hat. I told him that maybe we could go looking for a new one someday, and he replied with, "No mama. Just make it." I love him.

For K's first birthday, one of my best friends here made him a little casket hat and luckily it still fits! She loaned me the pattern pieces and I got to cutting. The hat is reversible, so I chose a blue and white thinly striped, almost seersucker-like fabric for the opposite side.

My friend didn't have the pattern instructions at her house, so I just kind of looked at the hat that she made for K and started sewing. The first step was to sew two of the "petal" pieces together and then add a third to one of the ends. The I did the same with the next three "petals" and finally I sewed the sets of three together down the middle to make the crown of the hat.

I tried really hard to get the center pieces to line up well. I did a good job on this side of the hat. The Mario side, however, was a disaster. While I had plenty of fabric, I decided that I didn't care enough to fix it.

Then I sewed the band together to form a loop and then sewed it to the base of the crown.

Yay! It was looking good so far!

Once both of the crown pieces were finished, I got to work on the "M". I started by ironing on some Heat and Bond to the white fabric, then tracing the top of a cup and drawing a straight line across, cutting off the very bottom. Finally I drew the "M" and cut the little guy out.

It looked pretty good once it was cut out.

Next I ironed it to the hat and then stitched around it to make sure it would stay in place. A Mario hat without the "M" is, afterall, just a boring, red hat.

Finally I got started on the bill. I just sewed the two pieces together and then flipped them right side out and topstitched.

I used a red thread on the top and a white thread in the bobbin, so it would be all matchy-matchy.

Next I basted the bill to the red side of the hat and finally top stitched around the whole band. Yay! All done!

K started preschool today and my plan was to give him the hat when he got home as sort of a "Good job, big boy!" gift. I was pretty confident that the actual preschool bit would be great for him. I was a tad worried, however, about him actually getting on the bus sans tears. We had been building it up for a few weeks - reading books (thanks Lees!!), listening to bus songs and just general talk about what a big boy he is going to be once he starts school. He woke up this morning and was so stoked!

We waited for the bus and when it came, he jumped right on, waved goodbye to me and blew me kisses. Then he was off. Four hours later (as it was the first day, today was just a half day), I met him at the bus stop and he got off with the biggest smile on his face. The teacher said he didn't cry at all. I'm so proud of him!! What a big, little 2-year old my K is!!

After school we had some lunch and then had to jump on the train to go get my visa sorted. Before leaving, however, I gave K the hat and told him that I am so proud of him. He was super stoked on the hat and wore it to get the visa situation taken care of.

After dinner, K played some MarioKart - he's allowed eight races a day. Of course, he was Mario and of course he wore his Mario hat.